Andy’s Riff

My friend died. It has been about 10 days ago now. He was several years younger than I, so it came as a surprise. The heart disease that he had been getting the better of for several years finally got him. He was not my friend of longest standing, but we had been friends for many years. So, I have been thinking about the meaning of life and the nature of friendship more than I usually do. ordinarily I don’t spend much time on that sort of introspection.

It is popular anymore to talk about ones’ “legacy”. Since it is popular I eschew doing it, having a perverse streak that causes me to avoid mainstream pop culture as if it were a fresh lava flow. I am a scoffer by nature. Yet, I find, here I am considering the impact of my friends’ life. His legacy. He was an enormously kind man, my friend, with a large understanding of the vagaries of the human condition. He knew a lot about how to be a friend. He was unlikely to give up on you. He was a man of generous nature who really tried to believe the best of others. He wasn’t a fool, he just took a charitable view. The number of people who have come forward since he died is rather astonishing. The common denominator seems to be, “he was my friend when I had no other”.

He was no saint, however. He believed himself to be right ALL of the time and was given to playing ‘devil’s advocate’ for the sheer sport of it. He loved to laugh and was not above a practical joke. He often rushed on, in his speech, and said things he did not exactly intend, taking refuge in the remark, “Oh, you know what I mean!”. He once told me, as I was thanking him for a rather extraordinary kindness, “Well I do the same thing for (another person) and you’re not nearly as worthless as he is.” I laughed till I cried, feeling him blushing even over the phone, and when the expected comment came, I did, in fact, know what he meant.

I have decided, in memory of my friend, to try to be the kind of friend he was. To encourage and defend others. To stand beside them when they feel alone. And maybe to scoff a little less.



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